Saturday, February 5, 2011

First look: Woolpower Full Zip Jacket 400

A year ago Hendrik from wrote a great post about Woolpower, a swedish maker of high quality wool garments with some unique traits. This spurred my interest and I subsequently bought a "long johns 200" that I was impressed with. Wanting to test more of their offerings I contacted them to inquire about getting some items to test. They gave me a nice discount as a gear tester and a short time ago I received a box of goodies, among them the midlayer garment called the "Full zip jacket 400, which I'll give my first impression of here.

The full zip jacket 400 is part of their midlayer range and is noticeably thicker, warmer and heavier than their 200 range (baselayers). While the 200 baselayers feel very light and airy, this feels more like an advanced sweater.

It's got extra large cuffs with thumb loops, great ass-coverage (I know that just sounds wrong in so many ways) and an extra thick and warm collar. A zip neck completes the feature set.

What really is unique about the Woolpower garments is the fabric which is a mix of merino wool and synthetic. The inside, where most of the wool is, has small terry loops that trap the heated air from your body and wick moisture to the outside where it can evaporate. I've observed this process while going on walks with my 200 baselayers. My back will get sweaty, the loops will get damp as they wick, and moisture will appear on the outside, eventually evaporating and venting through my windshirt.

The outside is mostly synthetic which makes it tough and resistant to wear and tear. Some syntehtics added to wool garments is clever in my opinion. I've owned 100% merino garments which feel and function great, but they are very fragile and fall apart quite fast getting holes and tears.

The zipper, though seemingly proprietary, seems very solid too, and will probably last a long time before needing service.

So, when is this a good item to use? It is very warm, so even in winter this is not an item to wear while doing strenuous activities like snowshoeing in heavy snow or climbing hills on skis. I think it is best suited to being used in camp and as a piece to wear in daily life during winter. This is bomber winter insulation that may not appeal to the most hardcore UL people because of being heavier than down or syntethic insulation pieces, and not compressing well, but personally I like it a lot so far and will gladly carry the extra weight to enjoy its warmth and bomber construction. There is something very comforting about wool garments like these. I will write a review when I've had the chance to get some long term experience with it.

  • Warmth
  • Robustness
  • Collar
  • Long back
  • Thumb loops
  • Extra large cuffs
  • Slightly oversized medium
  • Sticker with the name of the sewer of my particular piece (Inta Bartule).

  • Woolpower logo on the back of the collar
  • A bit baggy cut on the forearms (small nitpick as it may be a good thing if wearing something thick beneath)

Other comments:
  • Would love to see a hooded version of this and of the 200 base layers (including thumb loops).
  • Visit to learn more about the flexibility of layering.
  • I also higly recommend Woolpower's website. Nice design and lots of info.
  • And lastly, on a completely different note alltogether, check out this video if you have the slightest tendency to like 80s music. What a band they were. I feel old :D.